Ballad of Master Bacon

His name is Michael J. Bacon.

The only explanation for the rest I have to tell you is that I can’t help but attach to a shit hot brain when I spot one.

I first met Michael in Middle school.  Fifth and Sixth grade.  McGough and Paille.  Mcgough was handsome enough but a little too drawn and lanky for me.  She had an edge.  Very pretty nonetheless.  I wouldn’t mind remembering her better.  Paille was hotter than Georgia asphalt, a sassy China doll, immaculate and refined.  Always perfectly put together.  A story for another day.  I set a new record for demerits in her class.  She schooled me.  We were their pets.  Grace Bordewich Middle School circa ’75, ’76.

The building no longer exists.  It was old even then.  It was awesome.  Broad stairs and high ceilings.  Radiators for heat and their attendant dampness.  At it’s grandest in winter, it still informs my dreams.

Ridiculously smart.  Way ahead of me.  He very simply understood everything around him.

When I started fifth grade I was relieved to find out I wasn’t weird.  They put me with the smart kids.  I felt at home.  Smart kids have discipline.  They lost me there.  By sixth grade we were into Shakespeare and some Algebra and I was ditching school, chewing tobacco and riding my bike in every neighborhood I could find not like mine.  I was grooving on Beowulf though.  I got my hands on The Lord of The Rings.  Understand the West side was lush compared to the desert East where I slept, ate and rode the bus to.  A whole different world.

Most of the smart kids came from the West side.  Their parents were rich by my standards.  They lived in houses, I lived in a 40 X 20 foot trailer.  I was accustomed to walking through classes, tests and assignments without having to work or study.  I completed reading programs in a few weeks that were supposed to keep me busy for a semester.  I was used to being bored.  I started a chess club, read science fiction and designed my own space shuttle with elaborate blueprint like plans on graph paper.  I calculated thrust and fuel all to scale.  I studied the solar system, comets and astronomy on my own.

Yet one of these things just didn’t belong so I found myself back in Gen pop in Seventh grade.  I had no respect for the academic lifestyle.  Still, I’d made these smart friends.  I respected them.

Bacon was different.  We clicked.  He was smart and funny.  Irreverent.

Michael is a bartender in San Francisco.  Currently a candidate for a PHD in Victorian Literature.  That he entertains my impasse gratifies me to no end.  He is so goddamn smart.  He’s got this great theory about what he calls “gentrifuge” in the nineteenth century.  A theory about gentrification and the effect of a centrifuge on Fleet Street in London in the Victorian era.   He dispenses humor and wisdom with the same countenance because it’s all the same to him.  Robin Williams quick, without the embarrassing chewing of scenery.

He really is brilliant.  He carried a newspaper article about my arrest for possession of marijuana for years until he was finally able to give it to me.  I’ll tell you this about that.  We were gong so fast we didn’t know we were being chased.  He ended up giving it to me through someone else.  Was it Nebeker or Shaheen?  I found myself with a Gin Mary in hand, smoking a joint with him one Nevada day on the roof of Cactus Jacks.  At the time, the bar at Cactus built their Marys with a long string bean.  Michael’s maxim that day was “do the legume”.

He tells a story about me pulling an Everlasting Gobstopper from my mouth in sixth grade and pointing out the corn belt.

In the past few months, Bacon and I have had drinks a few times.

We are both very pro gin.  Bombay Sapphire.  Gimlets or straight up on ice.

I wrote a blog late last year about seeing Michael for the first time in fifteen years.  I’ll let it speak for itself:

“Morey (owner of Mo & Sluggos) touches me on the shoulder when I tell him I’m there to meet Mike Bacon and asks me if I want a drink.

Mike tells me I’m in graduate school.  He means that’s where I am in life.  He thinks that’s how I should look at it.    He’s so painfully bright he dances around me and I hope I’m keeping up.  He points out things I did or said I don’t remember and it’s kinda hard to believe it came from me.  We’ve been friends since the fifth grade.  He shares all manner of things.  I think he tells me he’s gay because I didn’t ask and I’m almost sure he tells that truth one person at a time.

He dated Cecilia Martin right before pining for dudes.  This is huge to me.  You gotta understand Bacon and I just can’t help you there.  I can tell you things about him but they don’t define him.  Plus, Cecilia Martin was an absolute vixen by the sixth grade.

I believe she had braces.  To this day, I find women with braces sexy.  I want to kiss them.

He’s episcopalian and he says he goes to church.  This is the single most confusing thing he tells me.  We drank gin.  Bombay Sapphire only.  I think I bought two drinks.  Joe Tresnit, who lives with my friend Kelly Newman’s dad Reg, bought a couple, Morey Tresnit who’s business I want, bought a couple and Bob Tresnit, father with the not a leg, bought a couple.

We liked the gimlets the best.  Mike had to remind Joe how to concoct them.

A subtle but sublime pleasure to indulge in cocktails and conversation with this man I’d not seen in fifteen years at least.  Erudite, razor sharp and lightning fast wit……..

Bacon took me to his athletic shoe of a rental car and gave me a small tin with Obama’s face on it’s sliding cover and a chunky little bit of green inside.  He also supplied me with a one hitter painted to look like a cigarette.  I’m no stranger to paraphernalia  but I never sold these.

Bacon said something pretty profound about re-branding the word ’socialism’ into an “E. Pluribus Unum” kinda vibe, “Out of many one”.  They didn’t teach Latin here in the brush but I got it.  Pretty elegant and disarmingly simple.  I think it means nothing about leaders or demagogues but it’s about ideas.  It’s just that in any other context,  it’s incendiary rhetoric.  Neither concept is understood at all by the average American.  That’s what I got.  I think he was reminding me of the consensus.  Maybe he was reminding me that we have one.  Could be genius and could be foolish.  Either one of us.

It’s this kind of confusion what makes pot great.

He spoke so calmly and sincerely.  He half asked if he was effeminate.  I shook my head.  What he is, is who he is.  He’s a sensitive and sincere man who sees most of what’s on display.  In Carson City, Bacon is like a well dressed comedian from New York City.  The Catskills.  Jewish maybe.  Carson folks have no idea but they like him.  He is as close to the ten to twelve year old that I knew, as a 44 year old could possibly be.

His beard and glasses are Freudian.  Marxist if only by visual implication.

He looks you in the eye and with very little physical language, imparts crazy thoughtful observations and very perceptive conclusions.

He delivers wisdom and humor in the same voice because it is the same to him.  He’s advanced.  He is calm and passionate without raising his voice.  Here is an orator for one or a few but not a crowd.

I am rich to have a man like Michael Bacon look forward to spending some time with me.  He told me, that I and his grandmother had made his day.  He is exceptional in many ways, but so foghorn, lighthouse bright it would be intimidating if not for the lack of ego and a completely unassuming honest look in his eyes and on his face.  I don’t doubt Master Bacon is what he his without exception.

He left a comment on that blog nearly a month later:

“Douglass, I was honored and privileged to see you and now to find this. You’re a star-maker!

Like you, I struggle with the ‘native Nevadan’ concept, partly because it is a rarity but also because of its stark loneliness. I carry the solitude of Nevada into every city I visit, re-writing the song as ‘Please fence me in’. It might have been easier to have assimilated to the Copenhagen/Coors/conservative set but that we were repelled by it makes us the Nevadans who weren’t, or the accidental Nevadans. The state is like an abusive ex, we know it when we see it. To have emerged with a great friend in you was more than I might have hoped for. By the way, the last time I saw Cecilia, she was still as lovely as ever– and fun……….

Now come to SF for a refill of that Obama tin. I will pass through there again the day before Thanksgiving. Thank you Mike. And look in on my beloved Tresnits when you can. They are and always were an oasis in that Great Basin which spawned us, tanned us, froze us and blew us away.”

I can’t help but adore this man.  I wonder how he’s evolved with so much humility being so obviously smarter than everyone around him.

The idea of wealth in friendship is no myth.  It just might be everything.  It makes me smile inside.

Drinks for my friends.

9 Responses to “Ballad of Master Bacon”

  • Shaheen:

    Very nice.
    While reading this, I had a powerful longing to be at Mo & Sluggo’s with you guys. Rowan pouring us the stiff ones from behind the bar.
    An alchoholic bartender. I don’t know how he does it.
    It would be a downright rollicking circus to get Bacon and C.J. Veverka in the same room sometime too.
    Let me know if you guys ever need a representative from the West side of town…I’ll bring a carton of smokes!

  • admin:

    Thanks Dow….
    I can’t stop messing with this one. I just revised this paragraph for example: “A raging wall of collapsing guitars stacked upon each other so that the dissonance is harmonically irresistible. So that you can feel the wind coming off the wall. There really is nothing like that sound. The feel and sonic force of 12 inch speaker cones literally warping and contorting while reproducing the distorted chords being forced down the throat of the magnets driving them. It was one of my favorite sounds and I knew just how to make it. When it came to big guitars, I could put the anchovy in the paste.”

    You and I can at least hang at Mo’s one night while Colgan pours the hooch eh?

  • admin:

    I always thought Vaverka was the quintessential yellow sweater wearing dickhead.

    Bacon is pie and enchilada. I doubt he’s in the country.

    I wouldn’t object to Veverka though. I hope he’s changed. Gotta put Nebeker in the mix but he won’t come.

  • Sean:

    I’ll be there, and it was I who passed you that newspaper article. Drinks for you, my friend.

  • Shaheen:

    Most excellent wordsmithing my friend. I was definitely proud of you when you were tickling our tubulars with sonic revelry back in the day.
    Okay, left field…whatever happened to Cameron DePalma?

    The thing about Veverka is that that was then and this is now. My wife thinks he is one of the funniest bastards she has ever sat in the same room with. That kind of praise doesn’t come lightly from Gia.

    Truth be known…if I can just have you and Sneb and some top shelf tequila I figure it’s a good time. Life worth livin’.

  • admin:

    Cameron and I just recently got back in touch but not sure what he’s up to but still playing.

    Let’s finger something with me you and Nebeker.

  • kit:

    to know C.J. is to love C.J.

  • admin:

    Do I know you?

  • Master Bacon:

    Touched and flattered to have been eulogized so gently, I am. And for the record, I have not only been in the same room as CJ Veverka, I have spent the night with him in a Paris hotel, drinking cheap plonk called Kriter! I’ll respond to Live with Douglass at some point but today I can only think of Brother Colgan at the bar. Happy Green Day

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